1) "They're all my favorite. I think really the way that this system is set up." – Brian Hoyer
In each of the Browns' four games, a different target has taken the reigns in big moments. In Pittsburgh it was Andrew Hawkins. Against New Orleans, it was Gary Barnidge. Versus Baltimore it was Taylor Gabriel. And last week against the Titans, it was, of course, Travis Benjamin. Cleveland reporters were quick to lambast this "receivers-by-committee" early in training camp. Those storylines have died. Quickly.
Here are the Browns receptions leaders so far:
Andrew Hawkins – 24
Miles Austin – 16
Taylor Gabriel – 10
Travis Benjamin – 8
Jordan Cameron – 6
Jim Dray – 6
Gary Barnidge – 5
2) "We've [learned] how to continue to fight. The Steelers game we were down by a lot. We kind of created a monster by coming back." – Buster Skrine
Fight. It's an appropriate word for this week. Because of a hip injury Joe Haden suffered in the third quarter of the Titans game, there's a chance Skrine will be tasked with challenge of marking Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. The Pittsburgh Pro Bowler is third in the NFL in both receiving yards (501) and touchdowns (five). Skrine may have to be able to withstand some blows from Brown in terms of chunk yardage.
The monster Skrine is referencing has been evident to anyone who has watched Cleveland this season. When the Browns are clicking – the second halves in Pittsburgh and Tennessee and the their final offensive and defensive possession against the Saints – they look like one of the NFL's toughest teams. It's up to Skrine and the Browns to come out with the fight from the opening whistle.
3) "It won't make me play tentative. Not at all." – Chris Kirksey
The NFL has fined Kirksey $8,268 for his unnecessary roughness penalty on Titans quarterback Jake Locker. The hit sparked tension that lasted the entire game between the two teams. In a later shoving match, Tennessee defensive lineman Derrick Morgan was ejected. As coach Mike Pettine said earlier in the week, anybody who has known Kirksey for longer than 15 minutes realizes how upstanding of a person he is. There was no malicious intent on the hit. Kirksey is currently tied for sixth on the Browns in tackles with 17, quite an accomplishment for a rookie linebacker who shares his spot with Craig Robertson.
4) "Offensive coordinators come in and say they want to run the ball because that's what they think people want to hear. But they actually don't mean it. What they really mean is I want to throw the ball and run it if I have to. With Kyle [Shanahan] it's definitely different." – Joe Thomas
Thomas has a persistent smile on his face whenever he talks about the Browns running game. Because of the early bye week, the Browns' ranking (16th) in rushing is skewed. Instead, look at Cleveland's 143 rushing yards per game average, which is fourth in the NFL behind Seattle, Dallas and San Francisco.
On Wednesday, Thomas even responded to a question wondering why more NFL teams don't use Shanahan's zone-system. It worked with his father Mike in Denver and Kyle has now installed it successfully with Houston, Washington and Cleveland. Thomas said this is by the best offense he's been in since his rookie season in 2007, when Derek Anderson helped lead the Browns to a 10-6 record.
5) "Pissed off." – Mike Pettine
That was Cleveland head coach's response to what the mindset is for his defense. We can't write it any better than what coach had to say on the rest of the quote.
"They know as a unit that they're better than where we are statistically and better than what we've put on tape. It's a prideful group. I've said that – prideful, competitive. It's not a happy group. That'll show up on the practice field. It already did in the meetings and in the walkthrough. I'll be surprised if we don't make strides in the right direction."
6) "Too many text messages to even count." – K'Waun Williams
The Browns' newest nickel cornerback had overwhelming support from friends or family after the Titans game, where he helped clinch the win with a late sack. Where did the guy come from? We'll have much more on his back-story tomorrow.